On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of missionaries from the northeast US, set sail on the Thaddeus for the Islands. There were seven couples sent by the ABCFM to convert the Hawaiians to Christianity.
These included two Ordained Preachers, Hiram Bingham and his wife Sybil and Asa Thurston and his wife Lucy; two Teachers, Mr. Samuel Whitney and his wife Mercy and Samuel Ruggles and his wife Mary; a Doctor, Thomas Holman and his wife Lucia; a Printer, Elisha Loomis and his wife Maria; a Farmer, Daniel Chamberlain, his wife and five children. (The Honolulu contingent arrived on Oʻahu on April 19, 1820.)
In 1829, Kaʻahumanu wanted to give Hiram and Sybil Bingham a gift of land and consulted Hoapili. He suggested Kapunahou (although he had already given it to Liliha).
According to AF Judd, “Not unnaturally, Liliha objected to the proposal, but Hoapili consented. And Liliha’s resentment could avail nothing against the wish of her father, her husband, and the highest chief of the land.”
At first, the Binghams lived in a grass home erected by Kaʻahumanu beside a larger structure of her own. By 1831 the Binghams moved into a more permanent adobe cottage that stood beside a clump of hau trees.
While at Punahou, the Binghams created for themselves “a quiet retreat from the noise and bustle of Honolulu.” The building had two main rooms, a porch, a storeroom and a pantry. There was a separate cookhouse. (Punahou)
“Dear Punahou cottage, once my home sweet home, where the precious mother cherished her little ones.” (Hiram Bingham II, April 19, 1905)
The land was given to the Binghams (it was considered to be a gift from Kaʻahumanu, Kuhina Nui or Queen Regent at that time,) but by missionary rules, it was really given to the mission as a whole. (NPS) The Binghams left in 1840.
“The founding of Punahou as a school for missionary children not only provided means of instruction for the children, of the Mission, but also gave a trend to the education and history of the Islands. In 1841, at Punahou the Mission established this school and built for it simple halls of adobe.”
“From this unpretentious beginning, the school has grown to its present prosperous condition.” (Report of the Superintendent of Public Education, 1900)
“The trustees of Oahu College propose to set up a memorial in memory of the late Rev. Hiram Bingham, first missionary on the Island of Oahu, and a benefactor of the college.”
“The house occupied by Rev. Mr. Bingham was situated just mauka of the site now occupied by the president’s house on the college grounds and about 20 feet from the driveway.”
“The trustees will select a large bowlder and place it in position as nearly as possible on the spot where the house originally stood. One face of the rock will be trimmed off to receive a suitable inscription.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 20, 1897)
“The exact site of the cottage has since then been discovered by the unearthing of the foundation of the southern corner, and now, after the lapse of five years … we are here today to dedicate this memorial, and to witness to our belief in the propriety and usefulness of the same.” (Hiram Bingham II, April 19, 1905)
Like other missionaries who had benefitted from the generosity of the Hawaiian ali‘i, Bingham managed the land together with other mission members. As explained by fellow missionary Samuel Whitney on September 24, 1850, “The land could be received and immediately appropriated, as far as it was capable, to sustaining the missionary cause.”
“It was never my privilege to be a pupil at the Punahou Mission School but I can well remember how in summer days, when the heat was great and we were wont, for a change, to dwell in the humble cottage which stood here, an older sister and myself used to start out on foot to cross the dusty and arid plain two miles to Kawaiahao to attend the little mission school held in Dr. Judd’s back yard, the germ of this college.”
“Memory goes back sixty-six years to the delights of this refreshing spot, where, after the long weary walks of the day, I was wont to meet a mother’s welcome, and to refresh myself, not in this magnificent bathing tank so near at hand, but in an artificial pond originally constructed by my father for purposes of irrigation …”
“I remember with what delight I used to paddle about in my boat, only a box, in a fresh pond close to the spring. I remember how I was wont to stroll in the cool, shady spots so romantic to me in childhood among the banana trees which grew by the side of the taro patches”.
“… how in this cottage we children eagerly listened to the reading of “the Rollo Books” when they first appeared, and how we rejoiced over the toys as one by one they were taken from the box just arrived from around Cape Horn.”
“Finally, I remember how, in a neighboring shady grove, just a few yards makai of this cottage, not long before we went forth from it (was it prophetic?), I tried to sing with my sister the anthem ‘Daughter of Zion, awake from thy sadness,’ which we had heard sung by the choir in the old Bethel on King street.”
“Those were happy days, but they are forever gone. I would not have them back. It is enough for me, full enough that I have the memory of them, that in my oId age I hear the merry voices of the rising student generations as after school hours of faithful study they gleefully roam this campus, seeking rest and recreation”
“(M)y heart will to the last, beat with joy at the remembrance of the gift of my father and the continued prosperity of Oahu College.”
“In your walks through these shady avenues, kind friends, will you not once and again linger a moment here to reread this inscription (which I now unveil) and call to mind the labors of love which my dear father put forth in this city for the redemption of Hawaiʻi, and his parting gift, Punahou?” (Hiram Bingham II, April 19, 1905)
“The memorial tablet is a simple but beautiful affair. On a grass mound in the shape of a truncated pyramid is a pedestal of lava rock on which is a great rough lava boulder hewn out from the slopes of Rocky Hill.”
“On its rough face is an oval bronze tablet bearing in simple raised letters this inscription:” (Ceremonies In Memory of the Pioneer Missionary Rev Hiram Bingham, April 19, 1905)
“On This Spot
Stood The Home Of The
Rev. Hiram Bingham
Who Gave This Broad Estate
To The Cause Of
(Hiram and Sybil Bingham are my great-great-great grandparents.)